Turning the Council into a European Senate

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Proposal for a petition to the European Parliament

A. given that the European Union has dual democratic validation – on the one hand through the European Parliament, which is elected by all European citizens, and on the other through the Council of Ministers, which represents the governments of the member states –;

B. given that the Council (of Ministers) acts as the upper chamber of the EU; indeed, along with the Parliament, it is one of the two chambers where the European legislative process is conducted, having been set in motion by the Commission;

C. given that the criteria for the Council’s makeup are set down in article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

D. given that the way the Council functions does not currently permit any true debate on the questions it is called upon to decide, since its members gather sporadically and their participation is generally limited to ratification votes, following preliminary work and a decision-making process carried out almost entirely by bureaucracies at the national level;

E. given that the Council is one of the Union’s few institutions whose functioning has not been altered since the initial stages of the community’s creation, with the exception of voting methods and the majorities needed to approve acts;

F. given that it is untenable for the Union’s upper chamber to continue functioning as merely a body that acknowledges the outcomes of negotiations conducted through bureaucratic channels, and that, on the contrary, it, like the European Parliament, must become a place for genuine debates and discussions among its members; in other words, if the Parliament is the house of representatives for citizens, the Council is the house of representatives for national governments, and only through the convergence of the two can legislative texts be approved;

G. given that it is possible to alter the Council’s makeup without altering article 16 § 2 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), which states that « The Council shall consist of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level »;

H. given that it is possible to reorganize national governments to include a category of first-order ministers, charged with both supervising the work of the ministries and coordinating the activities of delegate ministers or deputy ministers, as well as representing their respective governments in Brussels;

  1. we ask the European Parliament to introduce a proposal, based on article 48 § 2 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), to revise article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) with regard to the method by which member states participate in the Council;
  2. we ask the Parliament to promote a reform of the Treaty that creates a Council composed of six ministers per member state, responsible respectively for: Foreign Affairs and Defense, the Economy and Finance, Justice and Internal Affairs, the Environment, Agriculture, Energy and Transportation, and Social and Health Affairs; one additional minister per member state must be added to those already mentioned to handle all other matters with normative implications at the European level;
  3. we ask the Parliament to ensure in this proposal that the newly-configured Council meet on a weekly basis, elect a president, establish commissions and elect their respective presidents, be authorized to organize public hearings and guarantee that its work is well-publicized, even regarding non-legislative activities;
  4. we ask the Parliament to ensure that this proposal abolish the special norms for the Council’s functioning on matters concerning foreign affairs, defense and security;
  5. we ask the European Parliament to propose that the name of this reformed Council be changed to « European Senate ».
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6 thoughts on “Turning the Council into a European Senate

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